Megan Hilty delivers unexpected CD debut

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LOS ANGELES -- Last week, singer-actress Megan Hilty wrapped her second, and possibly final, season of the TV musical "Smash."

But no time for curtain calls -- a day later she made her Carnegie Hall headlining debut to a sold-out house. She spent this week racing around New York, getting the word out of her first solo album, "It Happens All the Time," which was released Tuesday.

"It's been a whirlwind," Ms. Hilty said, with a sigh, speaking by phone from what she said was the only quiet spot she could find: the lobby of Marriott Marquis hotel.

The Broadway veteran and Carnegie Mellon University graduate doesn't ease on down the well-worn Broadway-diva CD-debut road, usually leading to a set of classic standards.

"While I love those albums," she said, "I wanted to do something unexpected."

"It Happens All the Time" began as an album comprising covers of songs previously recorded by other artists. "But then Columbia started sending original songs along, and things started to evolve." The result is a collection of wide-ranging genres: modern soul, '70s pop, contemporary alternative.

Talk about marketing nightmares. "I probably am," Ms. Hilty said, laughing. "I don't know what to call it either."

And yet the record is thematically consistent.

"I guess it is a breakup album, but not a cry-your-eyes-out kind of album," she said. "That's why we went with 'It Happens All the Time' as the title. People fall in and out of love all the time."

The 31-year-old Ms. Hilty said she is in a relationship, although she wouldn't reveal details about her personal life, except to add that she lives in New York and is the proud parent of two Jack Russell terriers.

It wasn't any easier getting her to spill spoilers about "Smash," NBC's both revered or reviled saga of the rocky road for a Broadway-bound musical. More than one TV-ratings analyst has dubbed the show "Crash" as some weeks of the series' second-season viewership have marked new all-time lows.

"The feeling on the set, from day one, was to work as hard as we can and enjoy each other," she said. "You can't control any of the rest of it. It's just like life."

When last we left her character, actress Ivy Lynn, she was doing a musical version of "Dangerous Liaisons," and her competition for the lead in the Marilyn Monroe musical, "Bombshell," Karen Walker (Katharine McPhee), was heading to Broadway.

"I can tell you this one thing," she said. "Ivy's fate with 'Bombshell' comes all the way down to opening night."

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